“This moment – this life – feels perfectly normal. Big, messy and all out of order, but it belongs to me.”
– Nicole Hayes, One True Thing
When is a secret not a secret? When your whole life is public.
Frankie is used to being a politician’s daughter, but with her mum now running for Premier, life’s a whole lot crazier than usual. All Frankie wants is to lose herself in her music. So when her best friend, Kessie, invites a student journo to interview the band, Frankie is less than thrilled.
But Jake’s easy to talk to, and he seems to really like Frankie. That doesn’t stop her from wondering if he’s just after the ultimate scoop, especially when photos surface of Frankie’s mum having a secret rendezvous with a younger man. With her family falling apart around her, Frankie is determined to find out the truth – even if it means losing Jake.
I am going to begin this review by quoting Ellie Marney from the front of One True Thing by Nicole Hayes. Marney says, “[this] powerful, heartfelt novel confirms Nicole Hayes’ talent on every level.” Can this woman WRITE! I must admit to having a small girl crush on Hayes (I apologise in advance if you see this review Nicole!). There is something wonderful about the way she writes; her insight into the teen psyche is spot on (the eye-rolling was totally worth it Nicole!) and what I love the most is how perfectly normal her characters are – I say this with the utmost admiration. The one thing that has stood out for me with both Hayes’ novels is how relatable her characters are and how easy it is to compare your life to theirs. Hayes has struck a chord with me with both books and I love the personal connection I feel with them despite no longer being a teen myself (oh, the relief)! I like how Hayes refuses the current trend of emotionally torturing characters until they are broken… Hayes sets the scene, tells the story and lets her characters deal with the situation in the way most people would!
Sixteen-year-old Frankie Mulvaney-Webb is used to being woken up with the sound of her mother talking policy and then eating breakfast with Harry the Media Secretary, Christie the P.A. and Sarah the Chief of Staff. A perfectly normal morning when your mother is a politician running for Premier! To escape the craziness of life, Frankie throws herself into her band rehearsals. Together with her best friend Kessie and band mates Van and Tyler, they prepare for their Battle of the Bands performance. Enter a cute boy and some scandalous photos of her mum and suddenly Frankie’s life begins to fall apart. How does a private life stay private when it is playing out in the public arena? How is Frankie to make sense of everything that is going on when her own mother won’t stand up with the truth?
I have to say, I picked the twist very early on. As soon as the scandal broke in the book I knew where it was going but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the story unravel and then pick itself up again. Frankie’s reactions are perfect and so are those of the people around her.
In Hayes’ acknowledgments, she writes that this book was ‘fuelled by [her] frustration with the treatment of women in public life’ and while I think her observations are spot on and utterly relevant in the age we live in I think Hayes has captured the wider issue of the media/Internet and the role it plays in our lives. We spend so much of our time online and you don’t have to be anyone notable to have your private life go viral with hundreds or thousands of people making assumptions about a situation regardless of whether they know the truth or not. Hayes has highlighted the way the media will sensationalise a story purely for the attention without a care for those involved. In the story, Frankie gets the chance to confront one of her mother’s worst critics, Seamus Hale – TV personality – and she has some choice words to say to him. Following his pathetic excuses – “Public interest sometimes trumps private needs” and “It’s nothing personal” – Frankie delivers the best and most profound line,
“You always have a choice.”
BAM! Best message ever! Playing the blame game will never get you anywhere and after Frankie lays this on Hale, she also begins to look at her own behaviour and fights to change the situation she has found herself in.
This is currently one of my favourite YA novels and I can’t wait for Hayes’ next book!
AUTHOR: Nicole Hayes
PUBLISHER: Random House Australia
PUB DATE: May 2015
Thank you to Random House Australia for giving me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!